Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Student Affairs PaperLearn | View Comments | permalink
Below is the paper that the University of Florida asked to be submitted with their application to their Student Affairs Masters Program. Any comments or criticisms are greatly appreciated! In particular - is the village reference way too cheesy? And is it inappropriate to underline the points I want within a quote? Should I just paraphrase? And would it be appropriate to add this paper to all of my other applications as a supplement? Thank you in advance for your help and for not stealing my paper and submitting it yourself. :) :) :) Topic : "What role should Student Affairs Professionals play in the undergraduate experience?" Max 3 pages.
"Problems facing the contemporary university: One is the improvement of undergraduate instruction in the university. It will require the solution of many sub-problems: how to give adequate recognition to the teaching skill as well as to the research performance of the faculty; how to create a curriculum that serves the needs of the student as well as the research interests of the teacher; how to prepare the generalist as well as the specialist in an age of specialization looking for better generalizations; how to treat the individual student as a unique human being in the mass student body; how to make the university seem smaller even as it grows larger; how to establish a range of contact between faculty and students broader than the one-way route across the lectern or through the television screen; how to raise educational policy again to the forefront of faculty concerns. Increasingly, also, the better institutions will need to keep in mind that many of their undergraduate students will be going on to graduate school, and therefore that they need individual attention as pre-graduate students."This statement rings startlingly true considering that Clark Kerr wrote this in 1964 in his book “Uses of the University.” It seems that not much has changed in the core needs of a postgraduate institution. What has changed, however, is the continual development of Student Affairs professionals who are becoming more and more equipped to handle these issues for the 21st century student population. The role that Student Affairs Professionals should play in the undergraduate experience is the same as it was in 1963; “to program curriculum that serves the needs of the student”, “to treat the individual student as a unique human being in the mass student body”, and “to establish a range of contact between faculty and students.” A true University education requires academic, intellectual, and social development. Students Affairs Professionals create programming that is designed to enrich the experience of the student and to complement the academic curriculum provided by professors and individual colleges. University staff members in multiple disciplines interact with students on a daily basis and are expected to have the knowledge and capacity to meet the changing needs of a student population. The time, energy and effort that students devote to the learning process is most often correlated to their participation in co-curricular activities and their involvement in the University experience as a whole. It is the job of a Student Affairs professional to enhance the academic programs on a campus with experiential learning opportunities and peer interaction. It is highly important that these professionals facilitate the bridging of the gap between classroom and non-classroom experiences so that each students feel engaged as part of a community. As Universities expand an individual student can easily get lost in the mix. Young people who came from a high school graduating class of 100 are now taking Bio 101 classes with 600 students. It’s unnervingly easy to intimidate a student into discomfort and, eventually, academic failure. This is why a Student Affairs professional must endeavor to make each student feel like not only a part of this amazing intellectual community, but an individual with unique ideas and learning styles. Only with this individuality intact can a student feel comfortable enough to travel the critical path from childhood to adulthood, a path laden with necessary pitfalls and quicksand. Therefore, in order to be effective in supporting the individual progress of each student, the Student Affairs professional must find the tenuous balance between protecting a student from harm and allowing the student the opportunity to learn from each mistake. This balance is as individual as the person, because each student has different core needs in terms of mentoring, advising, and development. It takes a village to raise a child, and that village is the most important developmental tool in a Student Affairs Professional’s toolbox. The third role a Student Affairs Professional must play in the undergraduate experience is as a resource. Intimate knowledge of each habitant, storefront, and service in the village is necessary so that appropriate recommendations and connections can be made, connections that could prove to be the most useful associations that the student makes in their entire life. Even the village idiot is a valued contributing community member and stakeholder that could have a lasting impact on a student. With the map to the village also comes the responsibility to bridge any communication gaps that exist within the infrastructure. The Student Affairs Professional must be able to facilitate genuine relationships and collaborations across departments, without alienating any one piece of the complex matrix that creates a University. This includes fostering a climate where students and faculty feel comfortable expressing themselves to each other as dialogue partners and sounding boards. Ultimately, the role that a Student Affairs Professional should play in the Undergraduate Experience is that of a facilitator. One should be able to take advantage of the multitude of resources on a college campus and determine which resources will be most advantageous for each student, then to open avenues of ongoing interaction and involvement. Inherent in this responsibility is the capability to access the individual needs of a student instead of the student body and to communicate effectively with diverse populations, integrating the distinct segments of a student’s experience. The position is instrumental in providing the type of environment where students feel comfortable enough to take risks, ask questions, try new things and pursue their dreams. Without these facilitators students would have to navigate through a complex system with variable expectations, opportunities and access on their own.